Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Graduation Requirements

General Education Components

Elective Focus Areas

Required Enriching Activities

Common Minors

Course Pre-requisite Waiver


BS/MS Program


The requirements for receiving a B. S. degree in Chemical Engineering are the following:

  • Successfully complete the required courses and an accepted Elective Focus Area (see below);
  • Maintain a GPA of 2.0;
  • Complete an accepted enriching activity (see below).

The undergraduate program requires 128 semester hours of course work for graduation (129 semester hours for the Pre-med Elective Focus Area). These courses are in the areas of mathematics, chemistry, general engineering, chemical engineering, and the general education component (GEC). Two semesters of calculus and one semester each of differential equations, matrix algebra, and probability and statistics satisfy the mathematics requirement. General and organic chemistry courses are required, with a lecture and lab portion for each area. In addition, an advanced chemical science sequence, including lecture and lab courses, consistent with the student's Elective Focus Area, is also required. The GEC course policy is as follows:

  • Every student must take a minimum of 15 SH of GEC courses.
  • Among the 15 SH, at least 3 SH must be from the pool of courses designated as social science courses.
  • Among the 15 SH, at least 3 SH from the pool of courses designated as humanities courses.
  • To ensure depth, at least 6 SH should be intermediate (100) level courses, at least one of which is a 100 level course in the same department as a lower level course completed by the student.
  • Courses that are primarily mathematical or scientific in nature and those that are specifically designed to develop artistic or music skills are not acceptable as social science/humanities electives even though they are offered through approved departments. Foreign language courses beyond those required to meet the basic foreign language requirement are acceptable humanities courses.
    The general engineering courses include statics, electrical circuits, thermodynamics, materials science, and computational methods. The chemical engineering courses are taken during the sophomore, junior and senior years. Chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, momentum transport, heat and mass transfer, economics, process control, design, and safety are covered in these classes. Elective Focus Areas (see below) give the student an opportunity to explore an area of personal interest.



The College of Engineering General Education Component (GEC) requirement is designed to prepare student engineers for their future professional responsibilities by integrating humanities, social sciences and arts into the undergraduate curriculum.

Please Note: You must follow all pre-requisites and instructions regarding instructor permission for the courses you wish to take. Not all of the courses listed are offered all semesters.

For more information see: University of Iowa College of Engineering General Education Component (GEC) requirements




The inclusion of Elective Focus Areas (EFAs) in the Chemical Engineering curriculum provides you with the opportunity to gain depth of knowledge in your chosen career path in addition to the strong fundamental grounding in the scientific, engineering, and chemical engineering principles provided by the common curriculum.

As described below, you may choose a pre-approved EFA in the following topics:

Biochemical Engineering Entrepreneurship
Business - New GEC Requirements Pharmaceuticals
Business - Old GEC Requirements Polymers
Chemical Process Engineering Pre-Medicine - New GEC Requirements
Energy and Environment Pre-Medicine - Old GEC Requirements

NEW!  Join the LinkedIn Energy and Environment EFA group


You must select an Elective Focus Area in the third semester (first semester of sophomore standing).  You must meet with your faculty advisor to develop and submit an EFA application form and a plan of study worksheet prior to enrolling in the first EFA course.  When completing the semester-by-semester plan, it is important to note that some of the elective courses are not offered every year.  To aid in planning, the recurring schedule of CBE electives is published on the CBE web page.  All students who have not completed the EFA paperwork by the end of the Sophomore year (first semester of Junior standing) will be automatically placed in the Chemical Process Engineering EFA.  Changes to the EFA track can be made by completing the EFA application process.

Alternatively, you may choose to develop your own EFA consistent with your career goals subject to approval by the Chemical Engineering Curriculum Committee.  The Chemical Engineering Program has developed the following guidelines for the EFAs after careful consideration of the required elements for a chemical engineering degree (including the advanced chemistry requirement and the other program requirements specified by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers):


Guidelines for Elective Focus Areas in the Chemical Engineering Program

General Education Component (GEC) courses

15 s.h.

Statistics elective

3 s.h.

Engineering elective

3 s.h.

Advanced Chemical Science Electives

8 or 9 s.h.

Free electives

10 or 9 s.h.

Total Semester Hours

39 s.h.


Advanced Chemistry Elective Course Sequences

Students completing Analytical or Physical sequences qualify for a minor in Chemistry. Students completing the Biochemical sequence can obtain a minor in chemistry with one additional advanced chemistry course. The minor is obtained by indicating the request on ISIS (Student Records > Courses & Grades > Minors) before the second to last semester.




Analytical Chemistry I

3 s.h.



Analytical Chemistry II

3 s.h.



Analytical Measurements

3 s.h.



Physical Chemistry I

3 s.h.



Physical Chemistry II

3 s.h.



Physical Measurements

3 s.h.



Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I

3 s.h.



Biochemistry and Molecular Biology II

3 s.h.



Experimental Biochemistry

2 s.h.


Possible Statistics Electives


Statistics for Business

3 s.h.


Probability and Statistics for Engineering & Physical  Science

3 s.h.



3 s.h.



Four-year Curriculum Guides for CBE (Effective 2012-2015)

Two sets of four-year curriculum guides are listed below for each EFA. 

The recommended four-year plan contains the Organics for Majors sequence, which generally allows for smaller class sizes and greater access to lab equipment.  However, if chemical engineering students switch to another engineering major, then the organic chemistry course taken during the first semester of the second year may not count towards the requirements of the new engineering major. The other four-year plan contains the Standard Organic Chemistry sequence, and all coursework taken through the first three semesters will satisfy other engineering departmental requirements.


Use the guides below to plan your undergraduate coursework and complete a plan of study worksheet.


Organics for Majors Sequence                               


Biochemical Engineering


Chemical Process Engineering


Energy and Environment





Standard Organic Sequence                                 


Biochemical Engineering


Chemical Process Engineering


Energy and Environment





Recurring Elective Course Offerings in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering

Fall of Even Years

CBE:5152  Transport Phenomena I

CBE:5315  Polymer Chemistry

Fall of Odd Years

             CBE:5110  Intermediate Thermodynamics

             CBE:5310  Polymer Science and Technology

Spring of Even Years

CBE:5210 Bioseparations

CBE:5425  Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

Spring of Odd Years

CBE:4405  Green Chemical and Energy Technologies



Chemical engineers in the workplace inevitably work in multidisciplinary teams, and are frequently working on projects that impact society both locally and globally. Therefore, our program will provide enriching activities to enable each student to develop effective multidisciplinary team skills and to develop an understanding of the impact of chemical engineering practice on both the micro and macro scales. All Chemical Engineering students will complete at least one of the following enriching activities as a requirement to receive a BS degree:

  • Three semester hour equivalent of an approved research experience

  • Cooperative education experience
  • Internship experience
  • Study abroad
  • Entrepreneurial program (i.e., receive the corresponding certificate)
  • Other approved multidisciplinary experience*

Completion of any of these activities will require that the student briefly summarize (~250 words) the contribution of their experience to the development of multidisciplinary team skills and to the increased understanding of the impact of engineering practice both locally and globally. While enriching activities can be completed at any point during the undergraduate career, students will register for 052:092 (CBE:4195) Enriching Activities Seminar during their senior and fulfill the reporting requirement.


* Approval to be obtained from the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering curriculum committee.



Chemical Engineering undergraduate students may obtain minors in several disciplines automatically or by taking one or two extra courses.   Students must sign up for these minors in ISIS under Student Records—Courses & Grades—Minors.  Students with credits at other colleges and/or universities and students with AP credits should contact the respective departments to ensure that those transfer credits will count towards the minor.  Common minors obtained by Chemical Engineering students are listed below:

  • Minor in Business: Students obtain this minor automatically by completing all courses listed in the Business EFA.
  • Minor in Chemistry: Students obtain this minor automatically by completing either the Analytical Chemistry or Physical Chemistry advanced chemistry sequence.
  • Minor in Mathematics: Students obtain this minor by completing two advanced mathematics courses beyond those required in the curriculum.  For instance, students can take MATH:107 —History of Mathematics, which counts as an upper-level Social Science GEC, and MATH:3550 —Engineering Math V: Vector Calculus.